Professional Development Program Grants

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    Professional Development Program Grants

    Professional Development Program Grants further education and outreach strategies for professionals and educators who work directly with farmers and ranchers.

Grant Schedule

July: Calls for pre-proposals are released.

August: Pre-proposals are due.

October: Selected pre-proposals are invited to submit full proposals.

November: Full proposals are due.

February: Full proposals are funded.


Professional Development Program Grants, known as train-the-trainer grants, are available to help further education and outreach strategies for ag professionals and ag educators who work directly with farmers and ranchers.

The grant funds training activities that educate ag professionals in up-to-date strategies and technologies to help farmers and ranchers increase profits and lessen environmental impacts. PDP grants support such activities as producing workshops, creating educational manuals and videos, or conducting on-farm tours and demonstrations.

To determine allowable costs for the funding, refer to the USDA-NIFA Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circulars: A-21: Cost Principles for Educational Activities, and A-110: Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements With Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and other Non-Profit Organization. Refer to the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations for additional grant regulations.

Grant Requirements

The application process for Professional Development Program Grants requires a pre-proposal, followed by a full proposal for those applicants invited to submit one by the regional review committees. Applications are accepted the current calendar year for funding for the following year.

Professional Development Program Grant proposals must meet the following basic requirements in order to be considered for funding:

  • Project outcomes must focus on developing sustainable agriculture systems or moving existing systems toward sustainability.
  • A project’s central purpose must be to provide or enable training to one or all of the following: Cooperative Extension Service agents; USDA field personnel from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Farm Service Agency, or other USDA agencies; ag professionals and educators, include mentor farmers who serve as trainers. Research projects and farmer-outreach or education projects do not qualify for this funding.

Who Can Apply?

Agricultural professionals such as Cooperative Extension; NRCS; Farm Service Agency, or other USDA agency staff; ag consultants; non-governmental organizations; mentor farmers; and other ag professionals are eligible to apply for a Professional Development Program Grant. SSARE also considers proposals from organizations/institutions whose projects involve farmers from indigenous agriculture that produces products for community food systems. These enterprises may be eligible where the production activity has an annual value of less than $1,000, even if products are not sold due to cultural factors.

General Guidelines

Professional Development Program Grants fund training activities, including seminars, workshops, farm tours, demonstrations, or the development, marketing and distribution of training materials. Activities can take place in a single state, multiple states, or throughout the entire Southern region.

Projects should include the following general guidelines:

  • Emphasize a systems approach in sustainable ag that includes environmental, societal, and economic impacts to the community;
  • Outline effective participatory training methods;
  • Involve multi-interdisciplinary and multi-institutional partnerships that can endure beyond the life of the project;
  • Include participation or support from both 1862 and 1890 land-grant institutions in their respective state;
  • Involve farmers in the planning, evaluation, and delivery of the training;
  • Use multiple deliverable formats in the delivery of the training material, when possible. While other formats are allowed, final deliverables should be in an internet-ready format.

Funding Amount

There is no funding cap for projects. To fund a broad portfolio of projects, priority is given to those less than $80,000. Projects can either be for one year or two years.

Professional Development Program Grants are paid by reimbursement of allowable project expenses.

Grant Writing Tips

Southern SARE Professional Development Program Grants are competitive. Each year we receive more grant proposals than we have monies to award funding. Here are some suggestions that might aid in strengthening your proposal:

  • Follow the instructions in the Call for Proposal. Failure to follow directions or omit any required information will result in your proposal being rejected.
  • Thoroughly research your project before applying. You may have a great idea for a project, but the research related to the topic may already be well established. We look for projects that are new, innovative, generate results that are useful beyond one year and produce information that many farmers can use.
  • Successful projects include clear goals and objectives. Make sure the methods are appropriate to accomplish your goals.
  • Make sure you include an outreach plan, and have a process in place for evaluating your results.
  • Clearly outline the activities of your training program and discuss how the activities proposed will reach the target audience and achieve your objectives.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute to begin your proposal and to submit it to the SARE Grants Management online system. The deadline for proposal submissions is firm. Anticipate technological glitches, budget issues, user error or other issues that might cause delays.
  • Be clear on the “what”, “why”, and “who cares” of your research project and how it pertains to sustainable agriculture. This is your “hook” for reviewers. Remember, they get to know you through your proposal.

Alabama 12 $862,872
Arkansas 18 $1.2 million
Florida 10 $651,193
Georgia 8 $599,596
Kentucky 24 $1.6 million
Louisiana 5 $271,966
Mississippi 14 $1.1 million
North Carolina 31 $2.2 million
Oklahoma 8 $710,963
Puerto Rico 5 $218,683
South Carolina 13 $800,333
Tennessee 7 $509,816
Texas 11 $814,221
Virginia 9 $680,949
U.S. Virgin Islands 1 $87,833